about 1 year ago
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Ma (amma, mom, mamma) would have surely rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue is disapproval at Jack Ma’s 996 work culture!

996 – 9am to 9pm and 6 days a week.

Well, many of us would say that this is what we do as such, unofficially. Officially, the timing might be 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 but many, majority of the urban working class, stays back till much later though fewer till 9pm.

At a time when stress is emerging as one of the biggest killers, it is shocking for Ma to advocate such a strict work regimen while other corporate world leaders are pushing their employees to strike a balance in work and life. 996 – where does that leave time for any life at all? Or does jack Ma believe that work is life? Isn’t work supposed to be just a means to earn a living?

Actually, there are many more such workaholics and expect the employees to also do the same. Elon Musk is known to be obsessed with work and he famously said, “ nobody ever changed the world on a 40 hours week.” Uber’s internal mantra – work smarter, harder and longer. WeWork,a another American company has ‘motivating’ quotes all over its office walls, saying things life,  “Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you are done.”

There are the new generation entrepreneurs who glorify ambition not as a means to an end but a lifestyle. Surviving the rat race is now rephrased as ‘owning one’s moment.’ In this new age work culture, merely lining your job is not enough, you need to love it, be obsessed and then promote that love on social media. Thus work has become life where individual identities are fused into that of their employers. At the same time, the ‘work culture’ of staying back late to show the boss that you are working continues to plague lifestyles.

Despite all this, the hard truth is that excessive working puts your physical and mental health at risk. In fact productivity goes down as 6 days, 9 to 9, leads to a burnout where the work force turns into a zombie. What you could do in regular work hours can take you much longer in extreme overworked environments. Physically, it leads to weight gain, bad eating habits and plethora of life style diseases like diabetes, BP, hypertension, affecting overall quality of life. If one is working hard today to enjoy early retirement, that will not fly as your ill health will make old age miserable. So when do you enjoy life at all? Or all the money earned?

We in India as such are overworked. An average employee in Mumbai works 3,315 hours a year — the highest in the world, according to a study by Swiss investment bank UBS. The report concluded that employees work for the longest hours in Mumbai followed by Hanoi, Mexico City and New Delhi. The same report also went on to find that employees working in Mumbai took the fewest number of days for vacation — an average of 10 days in a year.

There is so much data which proves that overworking kills thus it comes as a shocker to know that Jack Ma promotes such overworking.  We in India also need to have a strong overtime rule – work-life balance will lead to better productivity.

Celebrating those who sacrifice all at the altar of work is so wrong.  Maybe the richest man in China needs to enroll himself into some ‘balancing’ program. After all, money cannot buy him health or the time with family lost.

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